Inmate facing Tuesday execution found unconscious 

A convicted killer found unconscious in prison a little more than a day before his scheduled execution has been hospitalized in serious condition as authorities investigate a possible overdose, prison officials said Monday.

Lawrence Reynolds Jr., 43, who was sentenced to die for killing his neighbor in 1994, was found unconscious about 11:30 p.m. Sunday at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, prisons spokeswoman Julie Walburn said. He was alone in his cell on death row, she said.

Reynolds, who was expected to survive, appears to have taken an overdose of pills, Walburn said. She didn't say what kind or how he got them.

Walburn said Reynolds' injuries were self-imposed, but she declined to call it a suicide attempt. She didn't elaborate. Prison guards had been frequently monitoring him, she said.

Reynolds was being treated at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Youngstown. The status of his scheduled execution Tuesday was uncertain.

Reynolds has been challenging Ohio's new lethal injection procedure, which uses a one-drug system instead of three drugs. As expected, his attorneys filed an appeal Monday with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to postpone the execution.

Messages seeking comment were left Monday at the Ohio Public Defender's office, which is representing Reynolds.

This appears to be the first time since Ohio reinstated the death penalty in 1999 that an inmate scheduled for execution "has been found unresponsive mere hours from being transported" to the state death chamber, Walburn said.

Reynolds was to leave at 3 a.m. Monday for the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, where the state's death chamber is located.

His death warrant expires at midnight Tuesday and would likely have to be reissued if his lethal injection has not taken place by that time, Walburn said.

Reynolds was sentenced to die for strangling his 67-year-old neighbor in her Cuyahoga Falls home to get money for his alcohol addiction.

Tuesday would be the second time the state has tried to execute Reynolds. He was scheduled to die last October, but Gov. Ted Strickland delayed the execution so the state could review its lethal injection procedure.

Since then, Ohio has switched from a three-drug process, which opponents said could cause severe pain, to the one-drug system. Reynolds lost a bid to have the execution delayed so he could challenge the new system when federal appeals court on Friday denied his request.

Three inmates have been executed with the state's new, one-drug new method, and in each case death came in just a few minutes. Washington last week became the second state to adopt the procedure.

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